Juan Carlos Salgado has emerged as a leading candidate to replace his most recent opponent from nearly four years ago—if the commission approves his return.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Mexico City's Salgado—a former two-time junior lightweight titlist—is atop a short list of opponents under consideration to face England's Michael McKinson on short notice this weekend. The need arose once headlining attraction Vergil Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18KOs), who was pulled from the March 19 DAZN main event after being hospitalized Monday due to rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo).
Salgado's medicals are currently under review with the California State Athletic Commission. His status is not confirmed for that reason, along with several other factors that leave his status as less than a sure thing.
Regionally-based welterweights Blair Cobbs (15-0-1, 10KOs) and Alexis Rocha (18-1, 12KOs)—who are due to meet in what for now serves as the evening's chief support—were also mentioned as possibilities to face McKinson (21-0, 2KOs) in the main event. Cobbs' side has alleged that he was rejected as an alternative to take the fight due to his being a southpaw, a claim which McKinson refutes.
McKinson, Cobbs and Rocha are all southpaws.
That is the primary—if not only—factor in attempting to secure the services of Salgado (27-9-1, 16KOs), who comes close to matching the physical dimensions of Ortiz. However, Salgado has not fought in nearly four years—that moment, ironically, coming in a third-round knockout loss to Ortiz atop a Golden Boy show on ESPN2 from Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. His advanced age (37) and having never previously fought at welterweight through 15 years as a pro are also matters currently being reviewed by the California commission.
Salgado—who turned pro in 2003 as a featherweight—remains best known for his stunning first-round knockout of then-unbeaten Jorge Linares to claim the WBA junior lightweight title way back in October 2009. The glory was short-lived, losing the title just three months later after suffering a 12th round stoppage to Japan's Takashi Uchiyama who emerged as the division's top fighter and reigned for more than seven years.
Salgado went on to enjoy a second title reign, though coming in a September 2011 disputed points win over Dominican Republic's Argenis Mendez in Zapopan, Mexico Three title defenses followed before conceding the IBF junior lightweight belt to Mendez via fourth round knockout in April 2013, marking the start of a disastrous stretch which saw Salgado rack up eight losses in his final nine fights ending with the aforementioned knockout loss to Ortiz.
On the positive side, Ortiz announced Tuesday that he was in better spirits despite having to pull out of what would have been his 2022 debut. The exciting knockout artist has not fought since an eighth-round knockout of former title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas last August 14 in Frisco, Texas, just outside his Grand Prairie hometown in the greater Dallas area.
Should the commission approve Salgado—which seems unlikely—the next discussion would be the pecking order of fights. Ticket sellers undoubtedly came to see Ortiz, a highly-ranked welterweight contender who regularly trains in Southern California. McKinson-Salgado is not the most attractive option as the main event, with talks of possibly elevating Cobbs-Rocha to the headlining act.
Such are options remain the greater preference to canceling the show outright, which is an unfortunate consideration though also a last-ditch effort. For now, the show goes on but with McKinson still awaiting word of his next official opponent for Saturday.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox